This AP report on MSNBC.com (thanks Juliana) summarizes a Pew report and indicates the number of people shifting to online resources for news is leveling off. Is that really something for the newspaper industry to celebrate? I’d be less concerned about finding the bottom of the market than I would be focused on how to become relevant again.
What do the statistics say? 31% of adults regularly log in for news. Interestingly, people in their 40’s were more likely to go online for news than those under 40. But as the article goes on to say, “young adults are more likely to not follow the news at all.”
Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center also noted “online editions of newspapers are providing a bit of a life raft for newspapers…but it’s a pretty small life raft.” As I’ve mentioned before about the book publishing industry, nobody is going to get too excited about a direct port of the print product to a website. Sure, it’s a fine way to repurpose the content, pick up some traffic and make a few bucks on ads, but the competition is fierce. My local newspaper options are pretty limited, but if I want to go online for news the options are seemingly endless.
The most significant item in the article is this statement:
Local and community news are the big attraction for newspapers.
Yes, that’s what distinguishes your local paper from USAToday, Google News, etc. The local papers need to not only acknowledge this fact, but also embrace it and make it a core part of their strategy going forward. Community involvement, blogs and other tools need to be part of their online arsenal. It doesn’t all have to be online, btw. There’s room for great editorial coverage of the blogosphere, both local and national, for a print newspaper. This is an excellent opportunity for the editorial staff at your local paper to totally immerse themselves into the local/national blog scene and add value, both in print and online; what used to be the editorial page could grow significantly and become the central focus of what they have to offer.
Yahoo, Google, etc., are threatening your very existence. Take advantage of their weakness (no local “feet on the street”) and couple it with your strength (plenty of “local feet on the street”, in the form of reporters/editorial) and leverage the heck out of it…before they develop enough local community involvement in their own model, further crushing your brand and relevance.